Historical Archives Subject: Prenatal Nutrition

Breast Feeding

By the United States Department of Labor

Summary: “No single factor exercises a more pronounced influence on the development of the baby and on his health during his entire life than nursing at his mother’s breast.” So wrote the U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) in its landmark Folder 8, an annual report issued from the 1920s through the 1940s encouraging mothers to breast feed their infants and advising them on the best nutrition to support their body in the task. Though, sadly, the government would later abandon its official support of breast feeding, the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research continued to reprint snippets from the USDL’s Folder 8, along with the article “Weaning the Breast-Fed Baby” from Today’s Health magazine, as the single publication presented here. With its emphasis on untainted animal foods, fresh produce, and unprocessed foods, the diet outlined in this classic guide is as sound for nursing mothers today as it was in its day. Multiple sources, published from 1926 to 1962. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 122. 

Certain Nutritional Disorders of Laboratory Animals Due to Vitamin E Deficiency

By Alwin M. Pappenheimer, MD

Summary: A fascinating snapshot of some of the early animal research testing vitamin E deficiency. In this 1940 lecture, Dr. Alwin Pappenheimer details the grave and varied muscular and neural dystrophies that result in different species fed a diet lacking vitamin E. The young are particularly susceptible, he notes, often showing no symptoms for months after birth before being suddenly struck with neural or muscular dysfunction—the latter a condition he terms “nutritional muscular dystrophy.” In perhaps the most disturbing finding, a partial vitamin E deficiency in the diet of pregnant rats was shown to affect only the offspring—not the mothers, suggesting that what we today attribute to genetic inheritance is actually a problem of inherited malnutrition. In the words of Dr. Pappenheimer: “The fact that a partial deficiency of vitamin E in the mother may manifest itself only in the offspring seems to me to be one of the most significant lessons that one can draw from this work. May not similar things happen in human diseases and help explain the supposed hereditary or familial character of certain nervous and muscular disorders?” From Journal of the Mount Sinai Hospital, 1941. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 57.

The Use of Macrocystis Pyrifera [Kelp] as Source of Trace Elements in Human Nutrition

By G.L. Seifert and H.C. Wood

Summary: As read at the Second International Seaweed Symposium in 1956. Dr. Seifert reports on a study in which “the nutritional value of sea kelp and trace minerals was demonstrated.” In the experiment, the diet of 400 pregnant women—the majority suffering anemia—was fortified with tablets of dried giant bladder kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). In the majority of the subjects, the anemia disappeared within six to eight weeks of the onset of supplementation. In addition, there was “a spectacular drop in the incidence of colds” among the subjects. (Anemia and a tendency to develop colds is a common problem faced by pregnant women, the investigators note.) Seifert adds that the success of the study is likely a result of the high trace mineral content of the kelp, and that one of the key effects of trace minerals may be their promotion of the actions of vitamins. Reprint 133, 1956.

The Role of Some Nutritional Elements in the Health of the Teeth and Their Supporting Structures

By John A. Myers

Summary: A remarkable overview of some of the great, ignored research in nutrition history. First, author John Myers details the pioneering works of Dr. Weston A. Price and Dr. Francis Pottenger Jr., who in the 1930s showed clearly that tooth decay is but one symptom in an overall debilitation of human health brought on by the consumption of processed foods—a degeneration that includes diminished resistance to bacterial infection, onset of any number of degenerative diseases, and the alarming introduction of birth defects and mental illness in offspring of people who eat “modern” foods. Myers then touches on the famous studies of residents of Deaf Smith, Texas, the “county without a dentist,” and shows how these studies were used to justify the mass fluoridation of water in America despite their evidence suggesting something quite to the contrary. Finally, Myers draws form his own twenty-five years of clinical experience to illustrate the obvious practical effectiveness in preventing and reversing tooth decay and other dental disease by supplementing the diet with essential nutrients such as vitamins A, B6, D, and E, the minerals zinc, iodine, and magnesium, and the essential fatty acids. A true classic on alternative health. From Annals of Dentistry. Reprint 107, 1958.

Prenatal Nutrition and Birth Defects

By Mark R. Anderson

Summary: “The first words spoken by a woman upon learning she is pregnant should be, ‘Am I well nourished?'” writes nutrition researcher and educator Mark Anderson. In this sweeping article, Anderson recounts the findings of some of the giants of early nutrition research—Sir Robert McCarrison, Dr. Weston Price, Dr. Royal Lee—to show that the key to being well nourished is a diet of whole, unprocessed foods prepared “in obedience to time-honored dietary traditions.” Indeed, regardless of which of the many tribal societies these intrepid pioneers observed, it appeared that “isolation from Western civilization and its foods of commerce…afforded a diet that protected health.” Unsurprisingly, birth defects among these societies were virtually nonexistent. And how did these traditional diets compare with the current recommendations of our public health officials? “[They] looked nothing like our modern USDA Food Pyramid,” Anderson writes, “unless, perhaps, if it is turned upside down and all the foodstuffs are consumed in their unrefined state.” This is an incredibly important document about not just prenatal nutrition but the core of nutrition in general: what to eat. From Whole Food Nutrition Journal, circa 2000.

Maternal Malnutrition and Fetal Prenatal Developmental Malformation

By Howard H. Hillemann, PhD

Summary: A thoroughly researched report on the birth and developmental defects known to result from specific nutrient deficiencies in human and test-animal mothers during pregnancy. Professor Dr. Howard Hillemann of Oregon State College covers deficiencies of vitamins A, C, and E, fats, carbohydrates, the B complex vitamers (including folate), protein, calcium, phosphorous, and manganese. Includes 61 references. Published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, reprint 66A, 1956.

Maternal Malnutrition and Congenital Deformity

By Howard H. Hillemann, PhD

Summary: In this lecture from 1958, Oregon State professor Dr. Howard Hillemann breaks down the number of birth defects occurring in the United States by cause, noting in particular the increasing numbers of defects attributable to environmental chemicals, food additives, and prenatal malnutrition. The report includes a comprehensive discussion of the role of vitamins and minerals in prenatal nutrition, addressing each nutrient individually. Published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, reprint 66B, 1958.

The National Malnutrition

By D.T. Quigley, MD

Summary: Daniel Quigley was a physician at the Nebraska College of Medicine who rose to prominence with the 1929 publication of his book The Conquest of Cancer. Like many doctors of the time, his clinical experience led him to believe that malnutrition—due to the replacement of natural foods with industrial ones—was not only more widespread in America than the medical establishment believed, but that vitamin and mineral deficiencies, more than anything else, were responsible for the exploding rates of degenerative illness throughout the country and world. In 1943, after years of observing the successful application of whole food nutritional therapy in his practice, Dr. Quigley published the following textbook through the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. In it he warns Americans to avoid completely white flour, white sugar, and corn syrup, each of the refined products fostering disease by delivering calories but precious few of the micronutrients needed by the body for proper function and fighting infection. For optimal nutrition Dr. Quigley recommends a diet of raw milk, eggs, whole grains, seafood, organ meats, fresh vegetables, yeast, and butter—a prescription of highly nutrient dense foods that makes just as much sense today as it did then, when these substances were known to nutritionists simply as “the protective foods.” Published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, 1943.